The AIF Project

John WELLS

Regimental number335
Place of birthGerringong, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationFarm hand
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation26
Height5' 10.75"
Weight180 lbs
Next of kinFather, Phoenix Wells, Gerringong, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Unit nameDivisional Train, No 1 Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number25/14/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board Transport A24 Benalla on 19 October 1914
Regimental number from Nominal Roll2186
Rank from Nominal RollSergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll6th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 October 1917
Age at death from cemetery records28
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel unknown), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Phoenix and H. WELLS; Wife: Mrs D.M. WELLS, 27 Rampayne Street, Westminster, London, England
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Embarked Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli, 5 April 1915.

Wounded, 26 July 1915 (injury not stated), and admitted to 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station; transferred to 24th Casualty Clearing Station, Mudros, 1 August 1915 (gun shot wound, thigh); discharged, 18 August 1915; rejoined Bn, Gallipoli, 19 August 1915.

Admitted to 3rd Field Ambulance, 6 December 1915 (no further details recorded); rejoined Bn, 10 December 1915.

Disembarked Alexandria from Lemnos, 7 January 1916 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Promoted Corporal, 23 February 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 26 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 2 April 1916.

Promoted Sergeant, 13 April 1916.

Wounded in action (second occasion), 26 July 1916 (shell shock), and admitted to 2nd Field Ambulance, and transferred to Casualty Clearing Station; to No 1 Australian General Hospital, Rouen, 27 July 1916 (shell shock: deaf); to England, 29 July 1916, and admitted to Graylingwell War Hospital, Chichester, 30 July 1916; transferred to Woodcote Park Convalescent Hospital, 11 August 1916 (deafness and shock).

Transferred to Rochester Row Military Hospital, 21 August 1916; discharged, 29 September 1916; total period of treatment for venereal disease: 40 days.

Marched in to No 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs, 29 September 1916; granted furlough, 30 September 1916, to report to No 1 Command Depot, 24 October 1916.

Granted furlough until 8 November 1916.

Marched out to No 4 Command Depot, Wareham, 13 November 1916.

Marched in to No 2 Training Bn, Tidworth, 22 November 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 29 May 1917; rejoined 6th Bn, in the field, 17 June 1917.

Reported wounded and missing in action, 4 October 1917.

Court of Enquiry, 5 August 1918, pronounced fate as 'Killed in Action, 4 October 1917'.

Note, Red Cross File No 2900309N: 'No trace Germany[.] Cert. by Capt. Mills 10.10.19.'

Statement, 3736 Sergeant J.A. EVANS, 6th Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 25 January 1918: 'Passchendaele right of Zonnebeke in the advance of 4th was hit in the stomach and fell. I was just behind him when he was hit but we had to go on.'

Second statement, 3271 Pte J. CADZON, 6th Bn, 17 January 1918: 'I went over with my Battn at 6.45 a.m. on Oct. 4/17. We were by Passchendaele. We had gone only about 300 yards when I saw Sgt Wells wounded by a piece of shrapnel somewhere about his chest. I stopped and asked about his wound, he replied "Don't mind about me, keep on going". I went on with the others. I saw nothing further of him as I was wounded and went back another way to the dressing station.'

Third statement, 2109 Pte H. ESMORE, 6th Bn (patient, Napsbury Hospital, St Albans, England), 2 April 1918: 'He was severely wounded at Westhoake [sic] Ridge, and died before he reached the dressing station. The Sergt. Major of his Coy., told me this. He, I and others, as Wells had been reported W. & M. [Wounded & Missing] decided out of consideration of the state of his wife, not to tell her we knew he was dead, but as her child is born before this, there is no reason to suppress it.'

Fourth statement, 4633 Pte J. WRIGHT, 6th Bn, 9 May 1919: 'I knew Casualty ... He was in advance at Broodseine Ridge, and was in the trench waiting to go forward when Fritz opened barrage. A H.E. Shell landed in the trench a piece of which entered Casualty's abdomen killing him instantly. He said just before he died "Go forward and leave me here. I'm all right." He was reported "Missing" in the Btn. I do not know where he was buried.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, WELLS John
Red Cross File No 2900309N
Red Cross File No 2900405K

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